18 October 2017Last updated

Features | People

Arva Ahmed’s Fil of Memories

As Friday looks back over 20 years, our food columnist reflects on foods that bring back memories

Arva Ahmed
17 May 2017 | 12:00 pm
  • Children at a grocery store in Hatta, Dubai, in 1994.

    Source:Gulf News Archives

This one is for the old timers. For the Dubai children who talk of Al Reef, Al Mallah and Automatic like old high school friends.

For those who soared on banana swings and rode mighty waves at Al Nasr. For those who tightened their skating laces at Galleria. For those who fell flat in the rink but rose from the ice like Mario on his second life.

For those whose social lives blossomed in Ghurair, City Centre and Bur Juman. In the downtime between Pac Man.

This one is for the Dubai children of the 80s and 90s. And for their parents who could silence their tantrums with a bag of latticed Safari Chips rather than an iPhone.

This one is for those whose school lives taught them the value of being first. First in line at the cafeteria before Pumpy’s pizza ran out. For those connoisseurs who understood the irrefutable appeal of a palm-sized, baby-soft wheel of dough with three dabs of sweet tomato sauce and nineteen strings of low-moisture mozzarella cheese. For those who upheld the time-tested tradition of pairing that one dirham pizza with an orange-flavoured Areej. Or with lemon if orange ran out.

This one is for those who scavenged for every fil that could be tossed in their direction. For those who meticulously collected those coins so they could be bartered for Lion Bars, those wafer and caramel logs enrobed in milk chocolate and crisp cereal. Thank you to the generous parents who intentionally dropped coins our way. Sorry to the parents who unintentionally dropped coins and never knew where they vanished.

This one is for those who lusted after the forest-wrapped fifty-fil Safari Bar. For those who rejoiced in having a patch of milky chew or Fruit-tella lovingly plastered against an upper molar. For those who graduated from a parakeet-green pack of Polo to the more suave, clover green box of chocolate-rippled After Eight. For those who lived the high life with Toblerone, one chocolate pyramid at a time. For those who judiciously saved their pocket money for the aural gratification of snapping a Kit Kat bar. For those whose piggy banks had run dry and had to compromise with Pik One.

This one is for those who flaunted their gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins like millionaires.

This one is for the unconnected children who were years away from experiencing the filters of Instagram. For the free-willed whose coloured filters in life were the ones they wore on their tongues, after time well-spent with a Gobstopper or with grape and strawberry pellets that rained out of a Nerds box. For the talented whose ego was not powered by ‘likes,’ but by the size of the bubble they could puff with a Hubba Bubba roll up or pack of Big Babol Gum. For the master chefs who independently discovered the ingenuity of dunking a scoop of vanilla ice cream into a glass of coke—the ultimate float for children who were grown up. For the champions who wore the tattoos in Fusen gum squares like hard-earned medals from Al Madina around the corner. For the dreamers who hallucinated of their fantasy toy in the milky walls of a Kinder Egg. For their annoying siblings who managed to get that dream toy in their Kinder Egg every single time.

This one is for those who conformed to the classroom rule of distributing Quality Street chocolates for their birthday. For their mothers who would store those tins, and those of sugar-studded Danish Biscuits, as storage containers for combs and miscellaneous baubles.

This one is for those wheelers and dealers who convinced their mothers to not only invest in Quality Street for their birthday, but also in thimble-sized jello cups that could be slurped collectively at break time.

This one is for those who bulldozed through a bag of Square Chips on the ride back home from school. For those who fluttered their Mr. Krisps chip-ringed fingers out of the window, pulling them back in the car to gnaw off each crunchy ring at a time. For who were convinced, contrary to everything learned during dictation, that the correct spelling was cheez because the Cheez Balls tin said so. For those who understood that the best part of eating Quavers, Pofak or tomato-flavoured Chipsticks was the glory in licking chip-powdered finger tips after. For those who, to this very day, have an unbreakable bond with Chips Oman.

This one is for those whose memory gates are flung open if they hear the words: Chupa Chups, Kopiko, Curly Wurlys, Koukou Roukou and Igloo. For those who now know that Santa does not exist, but that calories do. For those who have grown up to live by the weighing scale, but would never that time when every day was a cheat day.

This one is for those whose DNA will never permit them to say ‘no’ to a Pumpy’s pizza – even if they are now adults. And even if it is not a scheduled cheat day.

This one is for the old timers.

Arva Ahmed

Arva Ahmed